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“Aggressive Replanting of Coconuts Needed to Sustain Raw Material Supply for the Emerging Non-Traditional Products”

("The Cocommunity" - Monthly APCC Newsletter
Volume 45, Series No. 7, 1 July 2015)

At the beginning of this year, the message for the stakeholders of coconut worldwide was to prepare to make, or more so, to manage the needful changes as the sector would evolve in a demand-driven economy and market place for the products of coconut. From growing to processing and selling, the players in the industry would need to study the supply chain and its processes to be able to take advantage of the viable opportunities offered for increase in revenue and profitability.

The rural communities in producing countries are at a cross-road in deciding whether to continue with traditional products such as copra or to change course to pursue higher value products. For many coconut farmers and producers this would be a serious yet strategic economic decision. Many small village based farmers would be seeking the guidance of the respective national commodity institutions in this process. This demand driven change is evolving a lot faster than expected.

The movements in volumes and selling prices of non-traditional export products of coconut in the Philippines provides an indication of current global market trends and levels of consumer demand for respective products. The 10 leading products include VCO, coconut water, glycerine, toilet/bath soap, coconut milk powder, liquid coconut milk, bukayo, alkanolamide and coco flour. The remarkable increasing trends are VCO exports that increased threefold compared to same period last year and coconut water increased tenfold for the same period. VCO selling prices currently average at over US$4,500/MT which compares to Rotterdam CIF prices for CNO at just over US$1,100/MT.

With traditional products the average prices of copra was around US$712-724/MT (Indonesia & Philippines) and coconut oil price at Rotterdam CIF was US$1,113/MT for June. Sri Lanka copra meal prices at US$359/MT in June were higher than same period last year. DC prices reduced further in June 2015 and were still much lower by over US$500 for most large producing countries. Amongst non-edible products coconut shell charcoal and coir fibre prices were also decreasing in June 2015 and lower for same period last year.

Considering the current increasing demand for coconut products there would be a concern throughout coconut growing communities of the shortage of raw material supply due to declining production of coconuts experienced as a result of the high percentage of senile trees, negative impact of climate change and yield damaging effects of pest and disease on coconut in a number of countries at this stage.

Elite planting material with promising yields of more than 200 nuts per tree, or 20,000 nuts per hectare, in one year would be much sought after with a gradual but soon to be an accelerated move in most APCC member countries to replenish their coconut population. The countries with hybrids developed that are achieving such high yields as the Matag in Malaysia and similar types in India and Philippines would be fortunate and hopefully willing to exchange with other countries through the COGENT program. The ability to produce adequate supply of seedlings from the recommended material would still be a setback and that suppliers may not be able to meet the demand for planting material. Scientific work is still in progress to perfect coconut cloning work that would in the near future provide a very good solution to what could ultimately be mass production of planting material and with the ability to safeguard choice material from prevailing diseases of coconut.

The replanting of senile palms and planting of new coconut lands is of paramount importance for the future of the coconut industry. APCC member countries have a lot to offer each other therefore would benefit well by joining hands in the march ahead towards achieving sustainable development in all aspects of the coconut sector.

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